Friday, August 26, 2011

Disappointing Birth experience and moving on...

I've written quite a bit these last couple of years about my birth experience and the disappointment, sadness, and anger that I have/had surrounding the circumstances of their birth. Particularly that I was put all the way under. (You can read the full story here and here). On a multiples message board that I frequent someone asked about being put all the way under and our experiences and so I shared my story and included this as part of it:

I hated missing their birth and I still have a lot of anger and sadness about the fact that I was not "present" when they entered the world. My husband was also not allowed in the OR for their birth because I was all the way under. 
After I wrote my response which included the above another poster commented.

It makes me sad when I see women mourn the loss of a particular birth experience to the extent that it affects them a year or more later. In my opinion the health and safety of everyone involved is much more important than the details of how it went down. 
I've been thinking a lot about her statement, not because it offends me, or makes me mad. More that I'm reflecting on where I am now with the whole situation.

Part of my initial anger about the birth experience was it was just another thing that went wrong in the world of trying to have a family. 1.) Septum surgery 2.) Azoospermia 3.) Pre-term labor 4.) Hospital bed-rest 5.) Premature rupture of the membranes resulting in premature babies 6.) General anesthesia for their birth 7.) Marcus not being present for their birth due to #6 8.) NICU 9.) Postpartum depression/anxiety.

Frankly, I was just mad about all of it. The infertility, the complications in the pregnancy, and then it was topped off with not being awake for their birth. These were not really happy times, and they should have been.

I understand the sentiment that I should just be grateful we're all here and healthy, that's not particularly helpful. I had spoken with hematologist on several different occasions about a C-section with my bleeding disorder. Not one of them EVER mentioned that general anesthesia would be the go to method from the start. It was always presented as a worse case scenario. Had I been prepared even a little bit for it not being an option I might feel differently (maybe).

Also, I actually think I'm in a pretty positive place these days regarding the whole experience. I stand by what I said it does make me sad and angry. But it makes me sad and angry in the same way my parents divorce does. I wish it didn't happen, it's not how I imagined or ever dreamed things might be, but I've also accepted that they are in fact divorced. That doesn't mean there aren't times when I'm still sad that my kids will never know my parents as a couple. It doesn't mean that I sometimes don't mourn what could have been, it's an event that's sad and yes it impacted my life and probably always will to some degree. But it's no longer something I dwell on or cry about on a daily basis, as it was in the beginning.

I'm in a similar place with my birth experience. Yes, it still makes me sad when I see pictures or hear about a "normal" delivery. I'm still sad that I wasn't "present" when they entered the world, but it no longer affects me in a really profound way on a daily basis.

I'm incredibly disappointed that it couldn't be different, especially since I don't know if we'll ever get to try again. However, it's a part of my story and I'm okay with feeling sad about it, even two years later.

I'm allowed to experience that story in it's fullness. Yes, I'm grateful we're all here and healthy. I know others have had worse experiences that me, but that doesn't discount how I feel about the whole thing. I don't feel sorry for myself, but I do mourn the loss and that's okay. When I look back I also don't have the happy emotions that I always thought I would when I gave birth to my children and that sucks.

I think part of the healing process is recognizing and fully allowing the emotions to be shared. Sue Monk Kidd in her book Firstlight writes, "When I ache inside with a problem... [I remember] that help and healing do not come when we pretend or mask our pain, but rather when we are honest and admit our need" (28).

I think that's what the processing of the birth experience has been like. I can't pretend that I'm not sad or disappointed, that's lying to myself and not allowing a space to honor those feelings. However, by getting to verbalize those emotions it allows room for healing.

Enough rambling. I don't even know if this makes any sense, this is probably a sign I should go to bed.


~Jess said...

I think you have every right to mourn for that...particularly all that it took to get to there (being pregnant and having children).

I know for my self, I am already saddened by the delivery I am going to have...and I will most likely be conscious for it.


foxy said...

hey sadie,
My mom studied for her masters degree with a lot of the folks who are involved in the pre and perinatal psychology field. There is a lot to be said for the power of birth memories and a woman's experience of birth. So while we can all agree that health and safety are important to protect the physical, we really can't ignore the emotional aspects of the experience and need to recognize those as beng just as important and valid as the physical.

You have every right to feel however you feel about the birth of your babies, then, now, and into the future. It sounds like you know this, but I couldn't help but to restate it!

sadie607 said...

Foxy, What an interesting thing to study. I have to say that I do appreciate hearing that it's okay and normal to have emotional ties to the birth experience.

Thanks for you comment.